Politics Of The Business


Contrary to how the music industry ought to operate, being creative and being
commercially successful aren’t necessarily scenarios that go hand in hand. Just ask
Prince Paul. During his unprecedented 18 year career, the revered
producer/DJ/recording artist has experienced every high, low and in-between that the
business has to offer—from mentoring De La Soul during the group’s chart topping
heyday to independently releasing no-budget LPs like the wonderfully eclectic
Psychoanalysis as rap music’s outsider genius. But whether it’s been as the turntable
wizard in the original hip hop band Stetsasonic, collaborating with fellow production
gurus RZA and Dan the Automator (Gravediggaz and Handsome Boy Modeling School,
respectively), or creating conceptual album masterworks like A Prince Among Thieves,
Paul’s legacy has always been synonymous with innovation. Naturally, his latest opus,
Politics of the Business, continues on this highly inventive path. And the title suggests,
this time around he channels his talents into a humorous and insightful treatise on the
trials and tribulations of the recording industry.
The jump off point for this project was Paul’s own record label dealings involving his last album, the critically lauded, narrative-based A Prince Among Thieves. Explains Paul: "In my meetings with my former label, Tommy Boy Records, they pretty much dismissed my last album by saying, ‘You have no singles.’ I was like, ‘But it’s a concept album.’ Then I went through a whole lot of stuff where I wasn’t getting paid because of loopholes in my contract—things that I thought I had figured out from so many years of experience. I was like, ‘It’s always something.’ From there I knew my next record was gonna be Politics of the Business."
More than just an opportunity to vent about the nonsense involved in the record game,
Politics is also about musically leading by example, and it provides its own remedy for
the industry’s general creative stagnation by delivering some of the most engaging and
accessible material of Paul’s career. Along for the ride are some of the most respected
and recognizable artists in hip hop—Erick Sermon, Trugoy of De La Soul, Guru, Masta
Ace, Chuck D, Ice-T, Beatnuts, Tony Touch, Chubb Rock, M.F. Doom—as well as some of the underground’s most exciting voices in Jean Grae, Planet Asia, Kardinall Offishall, Truth Enola and Wordsworth.
"I think this album is more user friendly than my last one," says Paul. "I don’t wanna say it’s commercial, but it’s mainstream for me. See, I’m usually rebellious in a way where I think, ‘Okay, I’m gonna make something that nobody’s ever really done before.’ With this situation I was rebelling against myself, like, ‘Aight, I’m a try to go as mainstream as I can, but still be me. You want singles and guests? That’s what I’m a give you.’"

"I just got murdered with all the cats just bragging to me about, ‘Yo, I got this, I got that,’" Paul says exasperatedly. "You turn on the radio and it’s the same thing. It kind of got me down in a sense. And a lot of these cats is winning. It seems like today a lot of music is based on what surrounds the music, not necessarily what the music is."
By contrast, "Not Trying To Hear That," featuring Guru and Planet Asia, and "What I Need," featuring Canadian rhyme stalwart Kardinall Offishall, address the frustration of artists at their wits end. "[What I need is to] empty a couple clips into a label nigga’s ass/ And show him my life is worth more than a contract," Kardinall spits over an arresting, ascending guitar-propelled melody on the latter. And "Chubb Rock Please Pay Paul His $2200 You Owe Him (People, Places and Things)" resurrects one of Paul’s most famous beats (originally created for De La’s "Peas Porridge") as Chubb Rock, Wordsworth and M.F. Doom free-associate verses in an extended metaphor for those who drop names to get put on.
"This album embodies a bunch of emotions to me," confirms Paul. "There’s feeling good, there’s feeling anger with the fact that a lot of things are money driven. There was a lot of things that was kinda going on around me at the time I was recording that forced me to make music to represent my feelings."

Of course, a Prince Paul project wouldn’t be a Prince Paul project without some real
drama. No, not the kind detected in rickety relationships, but skits acted out for audio
pleasure. With the help of funnymen Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock (their past
collaborations yielded two Grammy’s for this comedic duo for Best Comedy Album, Roll With The New-1997 and Bigger & Blacker-1999), Politics of the Business contributes some future classics to Paul’s already prodigious canon. "A Day In the Life…" sets up the album with Chappelle as a record exec overly (and insincerely) enthused over Paul’s music ("I’m love this shit more than pussy on a Triscuit! Delicious! It’s gonna sell!") only to change his tune after the album flops ("Liked it schmiked it! It’s all backpackin’ music. You’re lucky to go double wood with that shit!"). "The Driveby" substitutes gangbangers with gats for aspiring rappers with industry dreams running up on an unsuspecting Paul for pointers. And the title track simply features Chuck D and Ice T doing what they do best: spitting wisdom in bite sized bytes. Not that, despite its subject matter, Politics of the Business aspires to preach a bunch of heavy messages. "One thing I did not want to do was hate," maintains Paul. "Yeah, the game has changed, but too many rappers come out and all they talk about how everything’s wack: ‘Aw yeah, this is wack and if you breakdance and do graffiti you’re real!’ I ain’t into that. Because I know I don’t like listening to preachy rap records, especially by some ‘old school’ guy. It just sounds bitter. "I just want people to listen to it regardless of what they’re into, the hip pop stuff, or the street stuff or ‘underground’ stuff, and try to relate to what I’m talking about," he concludes. It shouldn’t be hard, because making creative and compelling albums is Prince Paul’s business—as usual. Aight?

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1. A Day in the Life (Dave Chappell)
2. Popmaster Intro
3. Make Room (Erick Sermon, Mally G Sy Scott)
4. The Drive By
5. So What (Kokane, Masta Ace, Pretty ugly)
6. Drama Queen (Dave of De La Soul and Truth Enola)
7. Not Tryin to Hear That (Guru, Planet Asia)
8. Politics of the Business ( Chuck D Ice T)
9. Original Chryme Pays (Tash, Beatnuts, Tony Touch)
10. What I Need ( Kardinal Offishall, Sly Boogie)
12. Controversial Headlines AKA Champion Sound- Pt 1 (Horror City)
13.Beautifully Absurd
Controversial Headlines AKA Champion Sound- Pt 2 (Horror City, Jean Grae)
15. Chubb Rock Can you Please Pay Paul the $2200
You Owe Him (People, Places, and Things) ftr Chubb Rock, Wordsmith, MF Doom)
16. A Life in the Day
(Dave Chappell)

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